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An Intelligent Exercise Approach

Weighty Warning

Your exercise program should be pain-free. If any part of your body hurts, stop immediately. Push yourself enough to get a good workout, but not so far that you get injured. Injuries ruin your momentum and require time for recovery.

Body of Knowledge

Spot reducing works when your body is ready for it. It's hard to tell what body areas require special attention until you get close to your ideal size. Many things will change about your body as you lose weight and exercise, so be patient, and don't focus on spot reducing.

Some self-discipline and common sense will go a long way toward making exercise effective for you. Remember that this is your exercise program; you're not in a military boot camp. If you have a limited range of motion, only go as far as you're comfortable with each exercise. It's tempting to try to keep up or even compete in group classes, but you don't need to do this. Ask the instructor's advice when necessary.

At one time, Mimi engaged the services of a personal trainer who came to her home three times a week. Even though she has a weak rotator cuff in her right shoulder, the trainer kept demanding that she work the shoulder in a way that was painful. He ignored her discomfort. What an insensitive lout! Later, her doctor explained that some people of northern European descent (such as herself) naturally had this condition, and surgery wasn't a good solution. His suggestion: do as much exercise as possible and stop short of the pain.

Fortunately, most knowledgeable personal trainers won't make the same mistake. Be sure to check credentials and references if you engage the services of a personal trainer. If you have an injury or a specific muscle weakness, ask the trainer to show you how to strengthen the area or how to get the same results without further injuring yourself.

Darlene was enticed into a very intense weight-training program through the startling before and after pictures in the newspaper. The program was advertised as only one hour a week required to attain the perfect body. But, oh boy, what an hour it proved to be! In class one evening, Darlene was doing sit-ups with more than 40 pounds of weights—buckshot sewed into bags—resting on her stomach and midriff. Hard? You bet! She popped a rib out of place! Yes, the ambulance came.

You don't need to go to extremes to get fit, nor should you ever hurt yourself. Take it easy and reach your goal like the tortoise rather than the hare.

Spot Reducing


Keep on keeping on. The more you get into the flow of regular exercise, the more you will love doing it. The health and weight-loss benefits begin the minute you start your program, and they grow as you continue your program. Be prepared to keep getting better, stronger, and more in control of your body and your weight.

Spot reducing works … at times. If you have a puffy tummy and want to streamline it, you can. Spot reducing doesn't necessarily mean losing weight at one specific part of your body. It means tightening up or elongating certain muscle groups. Spot reducing needs to be part of a complete whole-body exercise program.

Stacy was about 5'1" and wanted to trim her thighs. She got on the Stairmaster day after day, trying to whip those thighs into shape. And her hard work did produce a new shape—bigger thighs!

Why? Because her body shape and musculature was such that she had short thighbones. As she stepped and stepped, her thighs got stronger and stronger, packing on more and more muscle. Rather than elongating the muscles, she was bulking them up. A better choice for her would have been exercises that elongated her thigh muscles, such as yoga, Pilates, and stretching.

Push Beyond Your Limits

Part of the “game” of exercise is to gradually and continually push your body's limits. If right now your limit is running a half-mile, eventually you will be able to double that. Don't think of this as a competition or even that more is better. Just know that in a couple months, you'll want to do more because your body will be ready to do more.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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